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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March 2004, 13:07 GMT
Xbox and PC to share gaming tools
End view of Xbox controller, Microsoft
Controllers could be common on PC and Xbox
Microsoft is making tools to allow developers to write a game once that will then run on both the PC and Xbox.

The tools, dubbed XNA, will help companies keep a cap on the cost of developing games for ever bigger pools of hardware.

Microsoft also hopes that XNA help it edge closer to console game champion Sony which currently dominates the market with the PlayStation 1 and 2.

The new game development tools will be available in the summer.

Cost cutting

The cost of making a computer game is rising all the time because the number of devices it must run is growing, hardware is becoming more complicated and the basic standard that gamers expect is rising too.

Over the next 18 months Microsoft and Sony are expected to announce new versions of their consoles and development of the first games for this new hardware is starting now.

Microsoft hopes to win over game makers with the XNA tools that will help them cap costs by reducing the time it takes to get a game running on the PC and Xbox console.

"The secret's going to be how much we get out of the hardware," said Robbie Bach, Xbox boss at Microsoft.

"How do you get better games? You create an environment with better economics on your platform."

Features that will become common between future PCs and the next Xbox include controllers for game-playing, online gaming services, some graphics technologies and an audio authoring tool.

Microsoft demonstrated some game sequences created with XNA that included a café scene with billowing cigarette smoke and a car crashing into a wall.

The announcement about XNA was made at the Game Developers Conference currently being held in San Jose, California.

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